A recent study by Antivirus developer McAfee and the National Cyber Security Alliance found that while people think their home computers are safe from viruses and malware, they’re really not. Over 90% of the people that participated in the study believed that they had antivirus or anti-malware software installed and that it was updating at least weekly. As it turns out, only 51% of those people actually were protected.
Before we discuss this study further, I think it’s worth pointing out McAfee’s involvement and the fact that the results of this study benefit them. As one Slashdot commenter points out, “How often have you seen a study that was spontaneously initiated and paid for by a company turn out to be against the company’s best interests?”
With that said, it’s not hard to believe that people think they’re protected when they’re really not. Think about all of the software that comes pre-loaded on computers these days. Consumers see that there’s an anti-virus installed, yet they rarely pay attention to the fact that it’s just a free trial that won’t last forever if there is even one to start with. Another big issue is simply the lack of education. The majority of consumers don’t realize, and haven’t been educated on anti-viruses to know that there are great free alternatives out there and that there’s no need to pay for a security solution which often times keeps them from getting an antivirus in the first place.
Aside from looking at antivirus protection, the study looked at firewall and anti-spyware solutions and found that 73% of Americans think that they have a firewall installed when only 64% really do. Similarly, 70% of Americans think that they have anti-spyware software when only about 55% actually do. At this point, it’s inexcusable that consumers still haven’t been educated enough on keeping their computers secure.
On a more positive note, this study did reveal that Americans do know about other online dangers that exist, which is promising. Out of the people surveyed, 99% have at least heard of Spyware before while 75% have at least heard of phishing attacks which are both serious threats. Now if we could just get everybody educated on how to keep themselves safe from viruses, spyware, and phishing threats, we’d be much better off!
I think it’s safe to assume that many of you are the designated “computer fixer” for your family and friends, so what do you generally find when you go to work on their computers? Do they have good anti-virus software installed, and is it updating regularly? Or would they be part of the 51% of people who think that their computer is safe when it really isn’t? While your computer may be safe, you may want to remind your family and friends to double check that they are in fact protected.
Thanks for the tip Cory!